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First Yellowstone grizzly emerges from hibernation

A grizzly bear walks through snow-covered brush in Yellowstone National Park
Jim Peaco
A Yellowstone wildlife biologist on a tracking flight spotted the first grizzly (not the one pictured here) of 2023 to emerge from hibernation.

The first grizzly bear of 2023 has been spotted in Yellowstone National Park.

In a news release Tuesday park officials say a park wildlife biologist on a tracking flight spotted the first grizzly to emerge from hibernation.

Park officials say the bear is estimated to be 300-350 pounds and was seen near the remains of a bison carcass in Pelican Park in the central-eastern part of Yellowstone. The first bear sighting of 2022 also occurred on March 7.

Male grizzlies typically come out of hibernation in early March, and females with cubs emerge in April and early May. Park officials warn visitors that when bears first emerge from hibernation and begin to feed, they may react aggressively to human encounters.

"Spring visitors skiing, snowshoeing, or hiking in Yellowstone National Park are reminded to carry bear spray and be especially alert for bears near carcasses and areas with early spring green-up," said Kerry Gunther, the park's bear management biologist.  "These are the first foods sought out by grizzlies after emerging from hibernations."

Certain restrictions will be in place in areas with a high density of bears beginning March 10.

Kay Erickson has been working in broadcasting in Billings for more than 20 years. She spent well over a decade as news assignment editor at KTVQ-TV before joining the staff at YPR. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a degree in broadcast journalism. Shortly after graduation she worked in Great Falls where she was one of the first female sports anchor and reporter in Montana.